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The plan is in motion

One of my main projects for this Fall is to redesign and replant the side yard garden. I built SideYard 1.0 this Spring when I finally decided what to do with an ugly patch of dead grass where a pile of compost had sat for nearly week. Even though that was last year, the grass never really grew back properly. This being our Side Yard, and thus visible to all our neighbors, it was kind of embarrassing and needed to be dealt with.


So, I decided to lean into it and turn it into a "Butterfly & Berries" garden, a nice mix of pollinators and berry plants. In the end I planted an area about 200 sqft, which had previously been turf. If any of you are interested, I planted these plants in the bed:


  • Blueberries (3)

  • Shasta Daisy

  • Purple Coneflower

  • Strawberries (6)

  • Dianthus

  • Stoke Aster

  • Squash (4)

In addition to this mixture, I reserved a corner of the bed for a smattering of assorted bulb flowers with literally no rhyme or reason to where they were placed. This was a mistake.


The Butterflies & Berries garden of the Spring of '22. Utter failure, but a ton of fun creating and learning from.

This was a rough summer because it didn't rain almost the entire months of May and June, so it was incredibly difficult to keep up the watering the way I needed to, and the plants suffered because of it. The aster and coneflowers bit the dust first, followed by the dianthus, which just never really produced. The shasta daisy was a surprising winner, with a ton of blooms. The strawberry leaves got munched on my critters, ultimately killing them by mid-June.


So, by the time the waterworks got turned on in July, near half the bed was dead, or struggling. The blueberries did fine and even produced a very small crop of very tasty bloobs. Another area that stood out was the bulb flower bed, where dahlia, sunflowers, calla lilies, and irises were popping out everywhere. I got to enjoy this for about 2 hours before the deer came by and nipped all the buds, thus almost none of the bulb flowers actually flowered. The lone exception was the dahlia, which went out of its way to show out, even if it was all alone. I snapped this pic of the best bloom of the summer.


For about 1 week this flowers was very beautiful. It almost single-handedly redeemed the SideYard 1.0 garden.

July cruised to August and I let the daily thunderstorm do my work for me. The garden got overgrown. It was clear I needed a new plan.


So, I dug up all the plants that had survived, and tilled up the bed. I covered the bed with a layer of cardboard and newspaper, and then about 8ish inches of top soil. I let it sit for two weeks, and then today I went about replanting it. I based it off a free plan I got from Better Homes & Gardens, one that was mostly focused on pollinators. I swapped out about half the plants with similar plants that I already had at hand, or were native plants of the same height and growing aspect. Ultimately, I went and bought about 7 more plants once I started planting because I realized there was gaps in my original plan.


The idea of this new plan is to create a test bed for what will ultimately cover the entire 100 ft length of the street-facing edge of the Side Yard. So, I needed to kind of create two vignettes, one for passersby on the sidewalk side, and one for those standing in my Side Yard.



The original plan was for a pineapple guava to occupy the corner spot, since they can grow to over 6 ft and it would create a nice evergreen foundation plant for the bed. After trying for two weeks to get my hands on a pineapple guava, I ultimately decided to just reuse the three blueberries that had been in the original bed design. They also should grow to 5-6 ft, are evergreen, and produce fruit, so they were mostly a 1-to-1 swap. I also ended up reusing every surviving plant from the original design, and added the rosemary from the Back Yard garden for another foundational location.



One of the more experimental things I'm doing is that I'm going to attempt to espalier a couple of volunteer white mulberries that start this year in my Back Yard garden. I think I did a hack job on the transplanting, so I'm afraid I might have killed the mulberries. We'll see. If they survive, then I'll try to wrap them through the future wire fence we should be building by next Spring.



This the final plant count in this bed:


  • Blueberry (3)

  • Shasta Daisy

  • Dianthus (3)

  • Stoke Aster (2)

  • White Mulberry (2)

  • Mums (3)

  • Dwarf Pincushion

  • Indian Blanket

  • Carnation

  • Golden Alexander

  • Butterfly Weed (3)

  • Rosemary

  • Common Aster

  • Common Yarrow

  • Blue Mistflower

  • Starrush Whitetop

  • Salvia

  • Coreopsis

  • Black Eyed Susan

Total cost was a little under $300, which was spent on plants and about 25 cubic yards of top soil.

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